© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How Does This Year's Wildfire Season In The Pacific Northwest Compare To 2020?


This year’s wildfire season for Oregon and Washington began early and will run long.  But so far, it’s not as bad as 2020’s.

Data from the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center shows as of today (9/13), 1,451,367 acres have burned across the two states.  That’s nearly one-quarter fewer acres than the same date last year.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Ed Hiatt, Interagency Fire Staff Officer for Northwest Oregon.

“It has been very busy this year, we were expecting it due to the environmental conditions across the region," said Ed Hiatt, Interagency Fire Staff Officer for Northwest Oregon. 

"The Northwest has been dry. We haven’t had a lot of lightning, but the fuels have been very receptive to lightning starts. And they cause us a lot of problems.” 

Besides the destruction of communities like Blue River, Talent, and Phoenix, many parts of Oregon were shrouded in heavy smog last year.

Data also shows fire crews tackling 15 large fires in Oregon and Washington, compared to nearly twice that number in 2020.  In an email to KLCC, Carol Connolly of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center says on this day in 2020, there were 8,522 firefighters and support personnel working 28 active large fires in Oregon and Washington (6,071 in OR & 2,451 in WA). 

"Currently we have 6,219 firefighters and support personnel on 15 active large fires. 3,996 in Oregon and 2,223 in Washington."

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.